It is no secret that home automation and IoT is slowly creeping up on us. The Philips Hue was an early example of what was possible using just the power of internet, and since then, many a company has offered their own offerings, with the likes of Nest making massive news recently.
One such company, Energenie, got in touch with us recently, and asked us to have a look at their range. They offer devices that not only offer you control via the internet, through a browser or an app on your phone (Android/iOS), but also integrate features such as monitoring, and even more such as IFTTT based features.
What is on offer?
The range is quite big actually. It all needs to connect to a Gateway, which is not very unlike many other setups that we have tried. So that is a necessary component. After that, there are many devices on offer that give you different levels of control:
- Gateway (required)
- Mi Home Lighting socket
- Mi Home Relay (controlled switch)
- Mi Home Power Socket
- Mi Home Multi Plug
- Mi Home Adapter Plus (control and monitor)
- Mi Home Adapter (Control)
- Mi Home Monitor
- Mi Home Heating
We tried the Mi Home Adapter Plus and of course the Gateway.
The setup is fairly easy. In fact, it took seconds. You have two options. App or browser. Since I was in front of a computer, I chose the browser option.
You plug the Gateway into a spare Ethernet port on your router, and power it on. Unfortunately, no WiFi option is available. Once connected, the status light on the device goes from red to green. Once again, this took seconds.
After that, every now and then the light blinks red between green, which is telling you that communication is taking place.
After that, you have two options, down load the Mi Home Smart phone app or try the browser to set up.
On the app, you follow the instructions, and you are connected.
On the browser, you head to mihome4u.co.uk and sign up. Once signed up, you log in, go to ‘My Devices’, and add a device. All you need to do so is enter the code that is on the back of your device. Seconds later, you should be connected.
To add other devices, you click on Pair New Device, and it allows you to add other devices. You can monitor or set up items from this page, such as rename them, or add timers. A lot more functionality is available on the app.
Monitor and Control
More browser based options open up when you hit Monitor on the above page. It shows you items such as Average Today, Current usage, Recent Usage, Average Daily Use, Average Hourly Use, Your total bills (you’ll need to add your rate) and other cost estimates.
The UI is simple and intuitive. You can turn the device on or off, and monitor recent usage. For example, I tested a hair dryer on various speed and heat settings, and that has appeared in my recent usage. The bar graph around the power button also lights up and indicates the wattage you are running at.
I used the above with the Adapter Plus, which simply plugs in to your normal plug, and allows you to control and monitor through the internet. The little button on top and the LED also allow you to switch items manually, just in case you are far from a device.
One thing to note, at least on the Google Play Store, the Mi Home app is the one you want from Energenie. There is also a load of apps with pretty much the same name from Xiaomi, so try not to download that. If it helps, this is the one in English! Here is a link, just in case:
The app offers more than what the browser does:
- Mi Schedule
- Mi Eco
- Mi Location
This means that you can basically add a channel on IFTTT to turn this on or off at a trigger. For example, a light could go on if you have unread emails, or if it rains, or gets too cold, a heater could go on. The possibilities are endless.
Mi Schedule is fairly obvious, and it helps you set up timers, while Mi Eco monitors your usage.
Mi Location is one of my favourites, which means you can turn things on or off depending on your location. For example, you are a mile away from home, and need your heater to be on as you are cycling home? This will take care of it. A bit of awesomeness there!
More information on the complete range can be found at the following link:
Surprisingly, while you can buy items directly from the website, I found it a bit difficult to get the Gateway through them.
The range is available from the likes of ScrewFix though:
The hub itself is £49.99 there, and with a few adapters, you can get a decent kit between £70 to a £180 depending on what you go for.
I will leave you with a product video so you can see the full potential:
I love what is on offer, and specially the extremely basic setup. This makes it better than a lot of the more expensive solutions out there, which give you a more polished interface but at the cost of complexity. This what will be staying plugged in!